Accounting for Chicago Heating Expenses

8 Replies

I'm looking to purchase and live in a small multi-unit property in Chicago, and I would be interested in gaining some input on how to estimate and account for the expense of heating in the winter.  Obviously this will vary depending upon the property, but are there some general guidelines for how to anticipate this expense in the event that I am unable to obtain the information directly from the seller?  

Having only lived as a tenant in Chicago for 1 year, I don't know what heating costs, but I'd imagine it isn't cheap.  I've noticed that many landlords include the cost of heating in the monthly rent - I'm guessing because all units are heated from a single source.  Experienced Chicago investors, what do you do?  

@Ben Wilson  - If it is forced air the tenants usually pay, if I it radiator heat usually it is 1 system and you pay.  For my 3 unit with 6 bedrooms and 3200 sq feet I pay $174 a month year round on budget billing

@Brie Schmidt  - Thanks for the helpful info!  The heat is definitely an expense, but not quite as bad as I expected.

I'm all separate so tenants pay.  So many factors here like age of the system, building insulation and windows, etc.  the only way to know is to request heat disclosure on any bldg you are serious about

It may not be possible where you are, but I've gotten utility information from the utility company. I told them I was looking at a property, etc. & they gave me high/low amounts for the last 12 months as well as the actual amounts from the last two months' bills. 

It doesn't cost to ask - and if one person won't help you, call back & see if you get another, more helpful person. Call around lunchtime - sometimes the "fill-in" person is more accommodating.

One other critical factor is the fuel type. Oil will cost more than gas for example. 

My building is 3 units, 7 br, about 4000 ft sq total. It's heated by a single hot water boiler, which shares a gas line with one of the rental units and a commercial dryer in the basement. During the summer that gas bill is $70-$80. This past brutal winter, the worst bill topped out a little over $650. The winter before the worst was $500. Age and efficiency of the boiler are big factors - My building has an older boiler that I plan to replace before next year.

As others have said, there are a lot of variables and the only way to tell is to get actual records from the buildings you're interested in.

I know the cost will depend on a lot of different variables, but the input is still very helpful just to get a general ballpark idea of what to expect as I start to look at properties.  I'll have to be sure to get the records for the building.  Much thanks!

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